Malcolm Butler has proven to be a key player for the New England Patriots’ defense over the years, but he was not in the game for one snap during Sunday night’s Super Bowl.
Butler signed a 1-year, $3,91 million contract with the Patriots in 2017, and is now an unrestricted free agent. Butler previously admitted that he didn’t have the best season, but said that he was focused on playing football, not his contract.
“Anything that happened to me is my fault. It has nothing to do with anything, it’s possible to just have a sh*tty season. It is what it is. I’m just worried about the Eagles,” he told NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport before Sunday’s big game. “Compared to the rest of them, I do [think I had a down year]. I have high standards, I didn’t meet my goals. I just feel that way. There were ups and downs, a lack of consistency. But this isn’t about me, this is about the team,” he added.
Butler played college football at the University of West Alabama. After going undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, he inked a deal with the Patriots on May 19, 2014. The 3-year deal earned him $420,000 in 2014, $510,000 in 2015, and $600,000 in 2016, according to Spotrac.
Many would argue that Butler earned his keep with just one play in Super Bowl XLIX back in 2015. The Patriots were facing the Seattle Seahawks and were in danger of losing the game when Butler picked off a pass throw, by Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, meant for Ricardo Lockette. This catch was one of the biggest in Super Bowl history and gave Butler some serious cred on his team — and in the NFL. Just about everyone was talking about Butler, a 24-year-old kid (at the time) who used to work at Popeyes.
Since that time, Butler has pulled his weight on the championship team and has been a vital part of their defense. Of course, that led many people to wonder why coach Bill Belichick didn’t have Butler in during Super Bowl LII. When Belichick was asked about his decision to keep Butler suited up on the sidelines, the coach simply explained that the team went forward with what they believed was their best plan to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite rumors that Belichick benched Butler for disciplinary reasons, he denied those claims (several people have been saying that Butler missed curfew the night before the game and that Belichick benched him as a form of punishment).
“No,” Belichick told the media when he was asked if the decision to bench Butler was disciplinary.
“Yes,” he responded when asked if the decision was based “strictly about football.”
You can watch Belichick’s press conference in the video below.
Butler’s teammates were also asked why he didn’t play in Sunday night’s game, but everyone deferred to coach Belichick.
“You have to ask the coach. I don’t know,” Stephon Gilmore told the media.
“We’re all just there ready to go. We don’t talk — it’s a coach’s decision,” Devin McCourty responded when he was asked about the situation with Butler.
Several Super Bowl LII viewers noticed Butler crying on the sidelines during the National Anthem.
Butler himself was asked why he didn’t play.
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“They gave up on me. F—. It is what it is… I don’t know what it was. I guess I wasn’t playing good or they didn’t feel comfortable. I don’t know. But I could have changed that game,” Butler told ESPN’s Mike Reiss after the game.
The Eagles beat the Patriots 41-33.
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